- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 6, 2015

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Days after a federal judge ruled that the U.S. government bears responsibility for hurricane-related flooding blamed on a now-closed shipping channel, attorneys in the case were preparing to discuss damages.

A Wednesday afternoon closed-door conference was scheduled by Judge Susan Braden of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington. Braden ruled Friday that the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet was a cause of flooding after Hurricane Katrina and other storms. She said flood damage to property caused by construction and maintenance of the U.S.-built channel constituted a “taking” of property by the government.

Braden set the conference to see whether attorneys for the federal government and for the plaintiffs in the lawsuit - the St. Bernard Parish government and other property owners - will agree to have damages assessed by a mediator.

The MRGO was authorized by Congress in the 1950s as a shortcut linking New Orleans’ Industrial Canal to the Gulf of Mexico. Critics said it contributed to wetlands damage in the New Orleans area.

Braden’s ruling noted the environmental damage widely attributed to the channel in ruling that the MRGO played a role in flooding in St. Bernard Parish and New Orleans’ hard-hit Lower 9th Ward. The MRGO was closed in 2009.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs have asked that the case be certified as a class action, meaning other affected property owners might benefit from the ruling if the judge agrees. But how many might benefit and how much money will be involved is unclear. And federal attorneys could appeal. They have not yet commented on the ruling.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide